CINCINNATI – Andy Dalton’s passes got batted in the air and picked off. His arm was hit as he tried to throw, resulting in a fumble for yet another turnover. Rarely has the Bengals quarterback looked so bad.
The Ravens have a way of doing it to him.
Dalton matched his career high with four interceptions and lost a fumble Sunday, helping Baltimore pull away to a 20-0 victory – the first time Cincinnati has been shut out in a home opener.
“I know the type of player I can be,” Dalton said. “I can’t let this affect the next one.”
The Ravens have a history of tormenting Dalton. He’s thrown four interceptions only one other time during his seven-year career, against the Ravens in 2013. He’s thrown three interceptions in a game nine times, four of them against Baltimore.
Two of the interceptions Sunday were tipped. One was forced into double coverage in the end zone.
With the latest loss, Dalton is 6-6 career against Baltimore with 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He was under constant pressure Sunday as he went 16 of 31 for 170 yards. His passer rating of 28.4 was the second-lowest of his career. Last season, he threw only eight interceptions in 16 games; he’s halfway to that total already.
“Andy is our leader, and none of us in the locker room are worried about that,” running back Jeremy Hill said. “We know he can play at a high level. He has done so much for this organization and our team; that is the last thing on our mind.”
It wasn’t all Dalton’s fault. An inexperienced offensive line got shredded in its first game together, allowing five sacks. The Bengals managed only 221 total yards, including 77 rushing.
Left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, right tackle Jake Fisher and right guard Trey Hopkins have 19 combined NFL starts. Hopkins hurt his left knee late in the first half.
Asked to assess the line’s performance, Ogbuehi said, “Not good at all. This offense goes off us. We have to be better.”
The Ravens limited A.J. Green to five catches – he was targeted 10 times – for 74 yards, making sure he wouldn’t add to his history of big games against them.
“They have a great front four,” Green said. “They got a lot of pressure on Andy today.”
The Bengals have given bigger roles to young players this season, and they showed growing pains in the first game. The defense gave up a 17-play drive in the third quarter that lasted 9 minutes, 38 seconds and essentially ended the game. Cincinnati extended the drive with three penalties.
The Bengals hadn’t been blanked in their season opener since 1979, when they lost at Denver 10-0. They hadn’t been shut out at Paul Brown Stadium since 2001 by the Bears, two years before Marvin Lewis became head coach.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been in such a disappointing football game,” Lewis said .
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